We’re now officially towards the back-end of May, and yet we somehow don’t appear to be any closer to the end of the recruitment… that just won’t end. I’m of course talking about Jaden McDaniels, the five-star forward from Seattle, who has seemingly been trying to decide between Washington and Kentucky since the Obama administration. Yet despite summer school starting in just a week or two, he doesn’t appear to be any closer to actually making his college decision.
Or is he? Who knows.
Frankly, it feels like he could commit a minute after this article publishes. Or a month from now. No one seems to have any idea. McDaniels doesn’t do interviews, doesn’t seek attention on social media and doesn’t truly seem in any rush to make a decision.
If anything, he is the opposite of what college basketball recruiting is in 2019. He doesn’t seek the spotlight. He actively avoids it.
Never was that more apparent than this weekend, when we actually got some interesting information about McDaniels recruitment. Information that came from the most unlikely source: His older brother Jalen.
San Diego State’s Jalen McDaniels was at the NBA Draft Combine this weekend, where he was stopped by the Lexington Herald-Leader’s Jerry Tipton and asked about his younger brother.
There, Tipton asked if the elder McDaniels had any idea when his brother would decide. I mean, his older brother would have to know, right?
“Whew, man, I’m wondering the same thing, honestly,” Jalen said. “I mean, honestly. I feel like it should be coming soon, though.”
“To be honest, I don’t know what’s holding it up,” Jalen said. “I know it’s between two schools. He’s just trying to make the right decision.”
My goodness. In a world where it’s easier to get information out of Fort Knox than it is the McDaniels camp, doesn’t this interview tell you everything you need to know about Jaden McDaniels recruitment? If McDaniels own brother has no idea where he is going, is it possible that maybe, just maybe, Jaden himself has no idea either?
The answer is probably a “yes.” And if Jaden really does have no idea where he wants to go to college then let me say this: He deserves respect from all of us (especially folks like me in the media) while making his decision.
Now look, before we go any further, I already know what some of you are thinking: “Aaron, do you really believe that Jaden McDaniels own brother has no idea where he is going to college?” It of course possible that the elder McDaniels does know and doesn’t want to give away the suspense. It’s also certainly possible that, considering that Jalen McDaniels has been at San Diego State the last three years, that he just isn’t all that close to his brother’s decision-making process any more. That certainly seems plausible.
At the same time, if you just read his comments, do you really believe that the elder McDaniels is part of some big conspiracy and trying to shield his brother? Or do the comments read like an older brother who genuinely has no idea what his baby bro is thinking (and yes, I just dropped a casual, Johnny Drama “Baby Bro” in this article).
To me it’s the latter.
And when you think about it, doesn’t it kind of make sense that Jaden McDaniels might be genuinely confused as this point? After all, as much as we professionalize all these big-time basketball players and assume that they’ve got it all figured out (since they’ll be in the NBA within a year), the reality is that they’re still 17, 18 and 19-years-old. For most of them, this is the first truly big decision that they will make in their lives. That’s especially the case for Jaden McDaniels. He isn’t a kid who has been the focus of a big-time recruitment since he was a sophomore in high school, but was relatively unknown until about a year ago. He also isn’t some kid who spent a year or two at Oak Hill Academy or Montverde adjusting to life away from home. This is all, quite literally, new to him.
So, you think that this might be overwhelming for him?
Seriously, think about everything he’s choosing between right now: The place he has called home his whole life, or a school that’s 3,000 miles away. Playing in front of friends and family for the next year, or on the biggest stage in college basketball. Playing for a solid Pac-12 program where expectations will be somewhat low, or on a team that will very likely start the season ranked in everyone’s Top 5 and be expected to compete for a national title. Being the hometown hero? Or playing for his “dream school.”
When you think about it like that… man is that a lot on the shoulders of an 18-year-old kid.
Maybe I’m overthinking things, but to me, this doesn’t seem like the type of kid to simply use social media to build drama between two fan-bases. He doesn’t seem to be waiting on anything honestly, other than for his heart to tell him where to go to college.
To me, this just seems like an 18-year-old kid who is truly torn on his college decision.
If his brother has no idea where he’s going, it probably means no one does including Jaden McDaniels.
So let’s all give him the respect he deserves as he tries to figure things out.